September Is the New August, No. 5: Cherry Tomatoes

The tomato selection at Makin

The tomato selection at Makinajian Poultry Farm in Huntington. 

While many of my vegetable plants at this point have seen their better day, the one crop that continues to yield harvest are my cherry tomatoes. I grow three varieties: red grape, yellow cherry and large red cherry. Every other day I pick them before they start to split open.

On a recent trip to Makinajian Poultry Farm on Cuba Hill Road in Huntington, I was blown away by not only their abundance of cherry tomatoes, but by the variety. They had all shapes, sizes and colors of these delectably sweet, burst-in-your mouth tomatoes. Who would have thought there would be such a bumper crop in September?

Cherry tomatoes are great served in a salad, of course, or just for munching as a healthy snack. When cooked their sweet flavor becomes more intense.

My favorite hot dish with cherry tomatoes is a Mediterranean-style fish dish that’s super simple to make. Use a firmer white fish such as  flounder or porgies. First, briefly sauté lots of sliced garlic in extra virgin olive oil that has been heated over medium heat in a large frying pan. Next add about two cups cherry tomatoes. Cook slowly over medium-high heat stirring, until tomatoes start to soften. With a potato masher, carefully squeeze the tomatoes as they cook in the pan. Be very careful when you do this, since the tomatoes have a tendency to burst. Cook for a minute or two, and then add a nice handful of whole pitted Kalamata olives. Stir. Gently move the tomato mixture over to one side of the the pan, and add two pieces of fish that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook the fish on both sides until it is just about cooked through. Spoon the tomato mixture over the fish and add a ½ cup dry white wine. Reduce. Add lots of fresh chopped basil and cook one minute more, seasoning with salt and pepper. Fish is cooked when it flakes easily.

So don’t give up on summer or on your vegetables. Our growing season, to the delight of many, continues to fulfill.